UNIVERSITY of the Philippines flaunted its depth to open the UAAP Season 85 Baseball Tournament, overwhelming defending champion De La Salle University, 11-7, Sunday at UP Diliman Baseball Field.
Back in Season 81, the Fighting Maroons only tallied two wins, finishing last in the six-team field.
This time around, long-time UP head coach Anthony Dizer did not have any problems in clearing eligibility for his players unlike in seasons past.
“Maganda ang naging preparation namin thanks to our manager Mike Asuncion and Dean Kiko (Diaz). We were able to put in the necessary work for this season and get the recruits that we wanted,” said Dizer, also noting that having their own field has benefited them as well.
“This is the first time na wala akong problema sa mga players ko. All of them are eligible and I also have two university scholars and six college scholars. You can see the reform, talagang 360-degrees,” he continued.
UP immediately flaunted its battery right from the get-go with Ian Mercado, Karl Liwanagan, VJ Mangahas, captain Mark Tuballas, and Mark Liwanagan all punching in runs and giving their side a 5-1 lead to end the opening inning.
Though an error-filled third inning knotted the game at 6-all, John Dela Cruz, who subbed in for Kenneth Torres in the fourth inning, and Allen Mercado, who came in the seventh inning, were able to hold the fourth.
Winning pitcher Dela Cruz only allowed one hit in 3.5 innings.
Meanwhile, La Salle’s second pitcher Aragorn De Vera struggled with his pitch in the sixth inning which led to a five-run, three-hit inning for UP.
“In the third inning, we committed crucial errors but that’s understandable since it’s just our first game tapos rookie pa yung shortstop namin. But we were able to come back,” said Dizer.
Tuballas, who is in his final year, went 2-of-5 at-bat with a double and a triple that led to an RBI. Mercado and Luciano Asuncion both had two RBIs each as well.
UAAP Season 79 MVP Iggy Escano of La Salle went 2-of-5 at-bat while Vincent Flores had four RBIs — highlighted by a three-run dinger in the third inning.
Game 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
DLSU 1 0 5 0 0 0 1 0 0 7 7 4
UP 5 0 1 0 0 5 0 0 – 11 12 4